NumOrgans−−

By Shamus
on Jul 21, 2007
Filed under:
Personal

I got through surgery and had my gallbladder removed.

Wow. That was rough. I’m never doing that again.

Thanks so much for the well-wishes from my friends and fellow bloggers who wished me luck. Thanks also to the well-wishers in the comments. Over a hundred wishes for speedy recovery. This is the ‘net equivalent of waking up in a hospital room full of flowers. Thanks again.

I’m alive and semi-coherant. I’m not allowed to run or lift heavy things for a week, which will not impact my lifestyle in any way whatsoever. The doctor may just as well have forbidden me to do any alligator wrestling. Moving heavy objects? Running? Do I look like Gordon Freeman to you?

Read on for the rest of the messy details.

The final gallbladder total: 5 “good” stones, according to the doctor. I’ll have to call and tell my mom. She was always worried about me being an underachiever.

I was under the impression that the operation would leave me with three holes in my stomach, but I seem to have a couple of bonus holes. I don’t know if they charge extra for that. Now my belly looks like a golf course. For the operation, they pump your guts full of air, thus turning your lower abdomen into a domed arena. Doctors think this is hilarious, and so when the operation is over they leave that air inside of you so that you can enjoy the joke as well. I’ve dropped about twenty pounds since this mess began and I’ve been enjoying my slimmer outline, which is now ruined by the Doctor’s comedic abdominal inflation. It feels like I went in and had a reverse-liposuction performed. Ewww. (There’s a gross thought, although I’ll bet it would be easy to find a willing donor.)

Also: Someone wrote on me while I was sedated. There’s a little blue scribble on my left forearm. Laying in the hospital bed, pumped full of sweet, sweet Demerol, I found this to be hilarious. I’m picturing the Doctor being interrupted in the middle of the operation with some paperwork. He goes to sign his name but the pen is a little dry. He looks around the operating room for some scratch paper on which to prime it, but doesn’t see anything handy. Then he spies the patient. Hey, this’ll work. He’s handy and he’s holding nice and still. I laughed until it hurt. I was the only one laughing. Demerol, you’re my only true friend.

Once I got home I broke a tooth. About a third of the visible tooth just broke right off. On a Friday afternoon. After surgery. Yougottabekiddingme. It’s been hurting me when I bit down on it over the last couple of weeks, and I was planning on having it looked at once this surgery was over. I think I’ll stick with that plan. Luckily, it doesn’t hurt at all yet, so there isn’t any real downside to this, but still: Yikes. Most fitness experts will tell you that sensible weight loss programs should not begin with organs and teeth.

I was going to write more, but sitting at the computer sucks. Thanks again. I’m getting better. I’m going to go lay down on the couch and make people bring me stuff. Have a great weekend.

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202020205There are now 85 comments. Almost a hundred!

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  1. renacier says:

    There was this old TV show ‘Operation’, where they would show an operation in progress. The one I remember the most is the gall bladder removal. They did the whole gut balloon thing and stuck some cameras and tubes and pincers and arc welders in there. It was pretty horrifying.
    I guess my point is: Better you than me, Shamus.

    Seriously, glad to hear it went well.

  2. robert says:

    Congrats on the successful operation! Best wishes from a long time lurker.

  3. Devin says:

    Welcome back. Glad to read the thumbs up.

    Heavy lifting… I’m pretty sure that’s just a myth.

  4. Mark says:

    another lurker here, best wishes from me too! :)

  5. Ian says:

    Glad things went alright with the surgery, Shamus. It really sucks to hear about that tooth, though. I’ll bet the last thing that you wanted to do after this ordeal is over with is see another doctor.

    And I know what you mean about Demerol. My dad went in for a hernia op a couple of years ago and…wow. I remember him laughing a lot and calling everyone George. ’twas quite humorous. :)

  6. Harvey says:

    I’m having Demerol envy… :-)

  7. Culinte says:

    Glad you made it through, and are at least semi-coherent!

  8. Katy says:

    I’m so happy that the operation went well. And hey, losing 20 pounds (if you have extra baggage) is good no matter the reason. I’d certainly like to lose 20 pounds of ugly fat.

  9. Gothmog says:

    Arc Welders! Neat!

    Glad things went well, Shamus- Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery.

  10. Katy says:

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    My only regrets about lifting heavy things after surgery is that children do, indeed, weigh more than five pounds.

  11. Telas says:

    Congrats on a successful surgery, and here’s to a speedy recovery (raises coffee mug).

    I’ve been in for an umbilical hernia and arthoscopy of the knee (meniscus tear), and recovery for both was pretty quick, although I now know have a knee-mounted barometer.

    Enjoy the Demerol, but not too much…

    Telas

  12. Jimmie says:

    Welcome back, man. I’m glad you got through okay.

    Word on the street is that this might be the time to ask you about taking on a post-DM project.

    Okay, it’s not “on the street” per se, unless “on the street” is the same as “on my blog”, but still…

  13. Most fitness experts will tell you that sensible weight loss programs should not begin with organs and teeth.

    LOL! (And when I say it, I mean it.)

    Here’s hoping for a speedy deflation!… err, I mean recovery.

  14. Jae Walker says:

    The Demerol theory of pain control – you’re still in pain, you just don’t care!

    There’s live after gall bladder removal. I had mine out – ye gods, 14 years ago! – and just avoid greasy foods and you’ll be fine. You will deflate, and that helps the pain.

  15. Dave says:

    Hmm.. maybe _you_ should release that army of undead.. Then the DM might stop pestering you.. Gall Bladder (check).. Tooth (check).. with this progression the next thing in line in a hang nail.

    Now get someone to fluff that pillow!

  16. Dave says:

    uh.. is.. is a hangnail.. though, perhaps your meds will find that amusing.

  17. Leslee says:

    I’d be a little grumpy if I woke up with a belly full of air!

    Any idea why the surgeon left the air in your stomach cavity? Where, exactly, does the air GO? Are you now the Flatulence King for the next few days?

    Inquiring minds wanna know. (And I wish you a speedy recovery, Shamus.)

  18. Gary says:

    I sat in on a couple of gallbladder surgeries when I was doing my clinical time for paramedic class. You should have at least three holes if you count the one in your belly button and the gas in your abdomen is carbon dioxide, they say the body absorbs it quicker than oxygen so that’s why they use it. Your liver is probably a little beat up because they have to lift it to get to your gallbladder. When they pull the probe (for lack of a better term) that pumps the air into your abdomen, out of your belly button it usually makes a somewhat comical farting noise as some of the air escapes.

    I also saw the difference between a nice young healthy liver and an older one. We had a teenager and a 45 year old, the teenagers liver was bright pink and full looking, the older one was dull red and crusty looking.

  19. Mike says:

    Now just wait for the incredible bruising around the belly button. I thought the incisions were interesting, but afterwards I wondered just how large of objects they had pulled out the incision essentially in my belly button for it to bruise that much.

    Good luck. Get some rest.

  20. John says:

    Best wishes for recovery there. And keep laughing… unless it hurts, in which case stop laughing.

    Or something like that.

  21. jpetoh says:

    Glad you’re doing OK.

    It’s been several years, but I need to commiserate.

    October 1997

    After a period of unemployment in San Francisco, I acquired a new job. The evening of the first day, I celebrated by going around the corner and eating a nice, greasy patty melt at Mel’s Diner.

    At this point I had spent most of my adulthood having occasional debilitating stomach-aches, but nothing I didn’t recover from after some Pepto and a few hours rest. But the morning after the patty melt, I woke up at 4am in excruciating pain, and it wasn’t going away this time. I woke up my roommate (who had also just become my co-worker, as he had helped me get the job) and asked him to take me to the hospital. I managed to stumble out to the car, but by the time we got to Kaiser Permenante I needed a wheelchair. I went into the emergency room, got admitted, got an X-ray…

    Then they found out I didn’t have any insurance.

    So it was off to the San Francisco County Hospital with lowly ol’ me. I arrived there at eleven and was admitted by noon. Mind you, I hadn’t gotten any painkillers this whole time and it was getting worse. Every muscle in my torso was cramped to near tearing. They finally got me into a bed and set me up on a morphine drip. I still hurt, AND I started to hallucinate that I was falling. On one side of me I had an elderly woman who was vomiting frequently and a orange-jumpsuited convict complete with police escort in the other. (Being a county hospital, they took care of the county’s jailbirds.) I lay there for one hour… two hours… four hours… an entire shift changed. The old lady left. The crook left. I had a view of ‘the board’ and watched as the entire thing turned over TWICE with me unerased. at 11PM (!) I finally had a nurse come up to me and ask, “What are you doing here?” She looked at my chart and her eyes got real wide. She called a huddle with the rest of the ER staff and I was in a room half an hour later.

    Now, San Francisco is a teaching hospital, like on the TV show ‘ER’. So whenever a doctor saw me, there were a gaggle of interns in tow. I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The gall bladder and pancreas are close neighbors and it seems that the pinhead-sized stones that were being created were holding my pancreas open. Digestive juices that were healthy in small doses were dumping unfettered into my intestine, swelling them shut. The only treatment: no food or drink until the swelling goes down, which in my case took three days. I was on an IV pump to keep from dying of dehydration.

    With this in mind, let me tell you about my hospital roommate, James. James was there because he had severe sleep apnea causing fluid build-up in the sac around his heart. He developed this problem after being on steroids following a knee injury chasing a thief as a rent-a-cop. The drugs and inactivity allowed him to gain 90 pounds. I would have had sympathy for this guy, but he was a moron. Not only was he eating the three square meals the hospital was providing him, but he was also getting two large hamburger meals from Carl’s Jr. snuck into him every day by his family and girlfriend. Basically, he was eating enough for both of us. To top it all off, James the Hamburger Boy would snore himself awake every night then turn on the TV at top volume, only to fall back alseep ten minutes later – TV still on. Since he was carrying all that weight and was in the bed near the window, he controlled the temperature of the room, which he kept generally around 60 degrees. Since I was getting minimum caloric intake and not moving, I was freezing my bejiggers off. Then during one of his girlfriend’s visits, they decided to get a little frisky. Next thing I know, there is a blood-tinged puddle of fluid spreading on the floor. They had popped his IV while gettin’ busy. When the nurse arrived, James said that “it just fell out.” Good times.

    So during one of my midnight visits by the attending and the zombie interns, I was awakened to be told that my gall-bladder needed to be removed. The problem was that the surgeons didn’t work on the weekends, which is when my swelling subsided. So was stuck in the hospital for the weekend with no symptoms and James the Hamburger Boy as company. I did get to ingest some clear fluids and Jello, though.

    And I got a shower. Not really a good thing. The community shower for the floor was lined with mold and mildew, and there were six or seven used gauze pads on the floor. Glechkem…

    So on Monday, they prepped me for surgery and in I went. Now, it would have been one thing if I had gone in on day one, but I hadn’t eaten much of anything for almost a week. So it took me four hours to recover from the anesthesia; so long that they were about to give me something to wake me up. I was VERY unhappy. They had slapped a pair of long cuffs on my legs that were regularly constricting to make sure that clots didn’t settle in any major blood vessels down there.

    So I get back to my room and James starts rambling on about… something inane – I don’t remember what. After several minutes, I gathered together what little energy I had and told him I did feel like talking right now. His response: “You don’t need to talk, you just have to listen.” I think I started to cry at that point.

    They booted me the next morning, four holes in my abdomen and a script for Vicodin. When the bill came, I owed $100. The state had picked up the rest.

    Sorry about the long post. But it’s a story I love to tell because you just can’t make stuff like this up.

  22. Poet says:

    No heavy lifting? So much for using your solid platinum dice.
    Hope you get better soon. Time to select the REST UNTIL PARTY IS HEALED option.

  23. Haviland says:

    Take care mate, my mother had the same op a few years back after she collapsed at work.

    She’s fine now.

  24. Doug Sundseth says:

    A word to the wise: If you see the Gallbladder of Vecna lying about, I wouldn’t recommend inserting it, even though you’ve completed the prerequisites. It never turns out well.

  25. Mordaedil says:

    Glad to hear that you’re alright mate.

  26. Cineris says:

    I was going to mention — Shouldn’t your post title be NumOrgans minusminus, then I realized it’s WordPress’ fault for turning that into an em dash.

    Anyway, glad you came out okay and are in good spirits. (Or is that the Demerol talking?) I wouldn’t worry too much about the -2 penalty to grapple checks vs. Alligators, though. If I recall correctly, having a stomach full of air is the d20 Modern equivalent to Enlarge Person, which will negate the -4 penalty you take on grapple checks with adult or wyrm alligators. Those are usually the ones you want to worry about anyway, so you come out ahead there.

  27. julie says:

    Glad everything came out okay. :)
    You’ll never miss it. (That’s what my 96-yo grandmother said when they took hers out.)

  28. Rich says:

    Feel better dude. Enjoy the meds while you can. And remember, chicks dig scars. ;D

  29. Myxx says:

    Glad to hear things went well.

  30. Author says:

    I’m happy to hear that you’re ok. I was imagining all the stuff that can go wrong… improper cuts, liver damage, infection, heart failure under anestesia, etc. Hate surgeries.

  31. Eltanin says:

    Very glad to hear that you’re alive and kicking Shamus. Clearly if you have extra holes in you, the operation went even better than expected!

    Get well soon. Here’s another flower for you recovery room.

  32. mookers says:

    Shamus, only you could write about gallbladder surgery in a way that the rest of us actually enjoy it. Here’s to a quick recovery.

  33. Martin says:

    Dude, you need a better doctor. My surgery took over 4 hours
    (my gall bladder looked like Miami beach on the inside –
    “hundreds” of stones, and was more scar tissue than healthy tissue) and I didn’t have the writing, bruising,
    or days looking like a Buddha.

  34. Julia says:

    I wish you a speedy recovery.

    Be careful on the lifting; as you’re recovering, keep in mind the rule, “If it hurts to do X, don’t do X!” (That was the advice I got after surgery for diastasis recti, and it is sane and sensible advice.)

    Oh, and if you’re on happy pain meds still, this would be a great time to watch Yellow Submarine. (Lots of fun on Vicodan or Demerol.)

  35. Lo'oris says:

    lol you’re funnier than Scrubs and more entertaining than House M.D.

    have fun (you will, I know)

  36. ravells says:

    I’m glad you’ve recovered. You do know if you had died on the table, we would have all dragged you back from the afterlife to finish DMOTR, and then let you go again!

    Ravs

  37. Alan De Smet says:

    Glad to hear to you’re doing well. Sounds like you’re recovering well; at the very least your sense of humor is doing great. I hope you heal up quickly!

  38. Wonderduck says:

    A few years back, Momzerduck’s gallbladder went south on her so quickly and severely that it damaged her liver in the process. They originally intended to do the “triangular three-hole-punch” method of surgery on her, but once they got inside and took a look around, they discovered that her gb was the size of a superball, and the consistency of a golf ball… which is NOT what it’s supposed to be like. So they cut a line inside the “hole-y triangle” and wound up removing the darn thing the old fashioned way.

    She jokes that they used a melonballer.

    Unfortunately, the liver damage is so bad that she has to take a handful of pills every day, but it’s better than the alternative. It also took nigh on a year for her to recover from the surgery, but that’s more because of the horrid state she was in at the time than from the surgery itself.

    Glad you’re more-or-less okay, Shamus! Good news indeed! Get swell soon!

  39. GEBIV says:

    Glad to hear you made it through in two pieces.

    Just remember, DM of The Rings doesn’t require any heavy lifting. :D (Of course, neither does the PS2…)

  40. Alden says:

    I don’t have any amusing medical stories, but good to hear you came through the operation fine. Sorry to hear about the tooth though! What a bummer!

    I’m surprised they left you inflated. Medical humour, eh? :)

  41. Old Man Matt says:

    I’m glad to hear your doing alright. Get well soon!

  42. Nazgul says:

    Sorry to hear about the tooth, but glad the surgery went well, even if they left you with “dwarf belly” lol!

  43. AR says:

    Are we talking, one of the front teeth? Because if so, this isn’t all bad. Let me explain. I’m in the process of getting a root canal on a front upper tooth, which implies a crown. I was rather sad about the loss of that tooth’s pulp at first, but then I realized that, since crowns on front teeth extend below the gum line, this tooth will now be immune to all decay forever! At least, so long as my gums are healthy, and though my teeth aren’t so great, my gums are fantastic. When you think about it, a crown is the ultimate in preventative dentistry.

    When this is done, I will be 1/28th immune to cavities.

  44. Glad to hear you’re home and doing well, Shamus. Take care.

  45. Woerlan says:

    Three holes? Laparoscopic surgery rocks. You’d be much worse if they did it the old way. They left the air in you? That’s odd. We let the air out over here. Wonder why they kept you pumped up?

  46. Kristin says:

    Glad to hear you came through it okay!

  47. misanthrope says:

    Wishing you a swift recovery. Hang in there.

  48. Lord of Fools says:

    Glad it all went well :) Ouch for the tooth though! At a time like this you think it would have more consideration than to go break like that. I had a tooth that literally got split by the one coming out from under it when I was 10. I was about 30,000 km from my dentist at the time. Not good.

  49. Inane Fedaykin says:

    “Most fitness experts will tell you that sensible weight loss programs should not begin with organs and teeth.”

    Well, you seem to have recovered your sense of humor.
    Best wishes on your recovery.

  50. Zaxares says:

    Glad to hear that the operation went well, Shamus. Here’s to a speedy and uncomplicated recovery.

  51. Maddyanne says:

    Glad you’re home safe. Best wishes for a quick recovery.

  52. Ailsa Joy says:

    So glad you’re getting better. You should definitely get a little bell to ring at anyone who passes by and make up crazy stuff for them to fetch.
    At least they didn’t do crosswords on you!

  53. Poet says:

    You know, it may have been easier if you’d just died. I can get 25000 GP in diamonds, and I’m sure someone here can hook us up with some holy water. All we need then is someone that can cast ninth level Cleric spells.
    Anyone?

  54. Suz says:

    Shamus, you are hilarious when totally healthy, partially healthy, and even (I know now) in recovery from surgery.

    I’m so glad to hear that everything went well with your surgery. Please add my little sprig of iris to your bedside bouquet. :)

    When I had my wisdom teeth out, my husband got me one of those old-style school bells that the teachers would bank on their desks (The same one is included with the awesome card game, Pit. Anybody know that one?) For the whole glorious weekend, I could just tap (bang! haha!) on the bell when I needed something. Aah, good times.

  55. phlux says:

    “turning your lower abdomen into a domed area”

    Isn’t the gall bladder in the UPPER abdomen? Either that’s the demerol speaking or the joke really WAS on you this week Shamus.

  56. Glumly says:

    Get well soon :)
    Or at least sorta soon, enjoy the “fragile” status :)

  57. Nate says:

    i love you shamus

  58. xbolt says:

    I wonder what would have happened if they’d filled you with helium instead of air…

    Anyway, I hope you recover (and deflate) soon! :)

    P.S. Did you get a sticker for being such a good patient? :D

  59. andy says:

    Hi Shamus,
    Speedy recovery, hope your feeling better soon!

  60. ArchU says:

    Good stuff, glad you got through it alright. From my experiences with doctors, I’m surprised you didn’t wake up with a tic-tac-toe board drawn on you =p

  61. AJ says:

    Hope you get to feeling better soon. The lack of ability to eat some foods can suck for a while according the few people I know have had theirs removed, but they’re both doing very well now and eating whatever they like (a problem, but of an entirely different variety). Cheers!

  62. Joerg Mosthaf says:

    Delurking for best wishes.
    Glad you made it ok. Hope you feel better soon, so best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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